Maybe you are a great cook but your cooking is lacking that extra oomph factor. Maybe you have chosen to stay in a safe recipe space until now. But it does not have to be this way: boring dishes can be brought back to life with the most simple of ingredients. Salads, sauces, glazes, desserts: there is nothing balsamic vinegar will not do!
As a matter of fact, a good vinegar would also make you healthier as it’s quite useful in diabetes management. The best balsamic vinegar you can find will be dark, sweet, and intensely flavored. Versatility is a result of these— oh so delicious— qualities. Traditionally produced in Italy, vinegar might seem like an exotic product. So, how do choose the best one there is?
Table of Contents
- Comparison of 8 Best Balsamic Vinegars in 2022
- Top 8 Best Balsamic Vinegar Reviews in 2022
- Different Types of Balsamic Vinegar and What They Mean
- How Do You Choose the Best Balsamic Vinegar
- Balsamic Vinegar Recipes
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- Dress, Serve, Love
Comparison of 8 Best Balsamic Vinegars in 2022
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Top 8 Best Balsamic Vinegar Reviews in 2022
As a passionate and dedicated cook, I love dressings, spices, and other embellishments for the food I create. I bet you do too! To bring you only the best of the best, I have created this list of reviews for commercially available balsamic vinegar products.
The search for the best balsamic vinegar is often not as fruitful as you’d want it to be, as there’s usually no indication of exactly how old the liquid is, especially when it’s authentically from Modena. However, this aged vinegar simply wows with its quality. Due Vittori’s Oro Gold is IGP certified, as it’s manufactured in the heart of Modena, Italy. It’s slowly aged in oak barrels using the traditional method.
As a result, the taste and flavor are noticeably thicker than anything else in this price range. The grape must include Trebbiano and Lambrusco grapes which give it a noticeably sweet taste with a wild cherry finish. The acidity is also very low, so the resulting smooth taste goes well with a variety of dishes. It’s the best balsamic vinegar if you favor the sweetness.
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- Thicker and sweeter than most balsamic vinegar
- Sweet, fruity taste
- Price is very low considering the quality
- Comes with a very convenient and secure pourer
- Beautiful packaging, great as a gift
- Might seem too sweet to some people
The MiaBella Balsamic Vinegar is a certified traditionally-made Modena balsamic. It comes in a bottle of 8.5 ounces (250 ml.) that is dark and suits the mood of the product. It contains no added ingredients and is aged for up to 18 years: way better than the best supermarket balsamic vinegar! This vinegar is quite thick and the flavor is amazing and smooth as silk.
Also, he might be the single most versatile vinegar on this list. It matches anything from meat to ice cream. The 18 years of aging really show: you can taste the wood— in a pleasant way! The sweetness of this vinegar pairs well with salads and any Italian recipe, really. A little tip: you can use this as a dip to eat focaccia bread!
- Very versatile
- It has less acidic content
- Aged for 18 years
- It is thick— and gets even thicker as you use it.
What does balsamic vinegar taste the best on? Why, salads, of course! If you’re trying to cut down on your calorie intake and plan on saying goodbye to those fatty, heavy dressings, get a bottle of this instead. It’s going to make your salads even tastier, and healthier! Another IGP certified product, the Gran Deposito has been aged in oak barrels for at least 12 years.
The manufacturer is Giuseppe Giusti, which has been in the business since 1605, so you know the taste would be authentic and classic. Moreover, this high-end balsamic vinegar comes in a lovely, upscale packaging that makes you feel like royalty. The taste has made people’s jaw drop, and they tend to dub this the best balsamic vinegar out of the whole bunch.
On the downside though, you should use this vinegar on its own when tossing a salad. It doesn’t run to the bottom of the bowl and sticks nicely to the veggies. When mixed with say, olive oil, this forms a sticky goop that you really don’t want on your salads.
- Truly authentic Italian taste
- Aged for over a decade
- Manufactured by an old, trusted company
- IGP certified
- Upscale packaging
- A little thin, but still good on salads
- Doesn’t make a good vinaigrette
If you know a thing or two about balsamic vinegar, you know that while the classic stuff is finger-licking good, there are also some variants that are just as tasty. Especially this one from Chef Jean-Pierre is certainly the best balsamic vinegar for salad dressings. The addition of fig to the usual grape must means this vinegar assumes a rich syrupy consistency that does really well in a vinaigrette.
This point really sold this vinegar to me, as there is a lot of vinegar that isn’t suited for vinaigrettes. Since it’s somewhat thick, you should shake this bottle of balsamic vinegar before using it. It has low acidity and sits really smooth on your tongue. Since the ingredients only include fig and grapes, I’d say it’s also the best organic balsamic vinegar you could get.
If I had to pick any shortcomings to mention, I’d say that this balsamic vinegar might not seem all that thick to some people. Also, while the flavor seems perfectly balanced to me, some thought it needed to be a bit more intense.
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- 18-year-old aged balsamic vinegar
- Comes in a nice, slim bottle, great for gifting
- A little goes a long way
- The fig flavor is nicely balanced
- Not as syrupy as advertised
While whipping up a tasty glaze, I’ve often been dismayed at how much I had to reduce a balsamic vinegar before it was thick enough. But with this thick Blazing Bella balsamic vinegar, you don’t need to worry about reducing it at all!
Aside from making a great glaze in no time at all, this is also a great contender for the best balsamic vinegar for salad because though thick, it mixes really well with olive oil and makes a killer vinaigrette. This Blazing Bella also comes with a few flavored variations, but I like the traditional aged variety much more.
While it’s not quite authentic balsamic vinegar from Modena, the taste, consistency, and flavor make up for all that. Additionally, the packaging is absolutely beautiful as the bottle comes in a foam-lined wooden box with a Woodburn design. The company also sends little gifts with each delivery, like pouring spout or flavored olive oil; it’s very endearing!
The downfall of this balsamic vinegar though lies with its calorie content. It’s quite a high-calorie choice compared to the other options on my list. It’s quite sweet, and if you’re trying to cut out creamy salad dressings for a healthy diet, this shouldn’t be the vinegar of choice.
- Consistency is as thick as maple syrup
- Comes in a beautiful wooden box
- Package tends to come with little extras
- Great for glazes and vinaigrettes
- Offers great value for money
- A high-calorie choice
Family-made in Sicily, this product is a little bit far from the typical region in which balsamic vinegar is produced. However, it is of great quality! It uses, instead of the typical Emilia Reggio and Modena grapes, local ones: moscatello, castrato, and inzolia. While considering recipes that make use of balsamic vinegar, you might often notice they also need olive oil.
While you can, technically, buy them separately, buying them in a set has more advantages. Firstly, the flavors would be more suited to complement each other. Secondly, since they’re from the same brand, the quality would be similar.
Since this vinegar is made in small batches, the taste is exclusive and each batch tastes different from the others, isn’t it fun? The olive oil that comes with it has a heavenly taste, so mixing them together in a dressing would yield the best salad you’ve had in your life.
- A production doled out in small batches
- Something different in terms of taste
- I am a sucker for the traditional, so I do not like that it’s from the wrong region
Ariston has produced a wonderful balsamic vinegar: its 8.45 ounces of pure goodness make it the best white balsamic vinegar. It has fruity, delicate hints that make it go well with seafood and desserts. White wine is the best drinking choice if you use this balsamic.
It is a zesty balsamic condiment: without the full heaviness of dark, developed balsamic vinegar, the Ariston has a playful feel to it. Its makers have been in business for 300 years. Talk about history! This product itself is aged for up to 12 years. As a result, it has a few layers of flavor.
While some might find this a little sweet. However, there’s a tartness that cuts through the flavor. I find that this balance properly unveils itself when this vinegar is drizzled over fresh vegetables and fruits. While you can use this for other tasks, some might find it thinner than desired.
- A light, sharp taste
- The trusted, old company
- Smooth texture, great for fruits
- Can be too mild and runny
You can’t always afford original, authentic IGP balsamic vinegar and that’s okay! That doesn’t mean you should be deprived of the wonderful taste. For a less expensive option, you’ll have to make a grab at the best cheap balsamic vinegar, which is this Mantova set.
This set of 4 includes 250ml bottles of balsamic vinegar comes in fig, pear, pomegranate, and raspberry flavor. It’s made of mostly organic vinegar and 2% organic fruit flavor. You’d be hard-pressed to find this quality or quantity of balsamic vinegar at this price range. These balsamic vinegar are quite watery, and the flavors are quite subtle.
You can’t expect a burst of flavor or taste from them, however, they work really well to enhance the taste and flavor of other ingredients. A common complaint regarding this balsamic vinegar is that it’s too runny and does not pack a lot of punch. Make note that this is less of truly balsamic vinegar and more of a condiment, so you actually get what you pay for.
- Goes well on vinaigrettes
- Light, subtly flavored
- Securely packaged
- Very affordable
- A little sour
- Not truly balsamic, but a condiment
Different Types of Balsamic Vinegar and What They Mean
There are many “balsamic vinegar” products on the market, but what are they, really? All these products are made from pressed grape must, but there are three main types that are protected (you know exactly what you are getting and the authenticity of the product is kept intact). These types are:
- Traditional balsamic vinegar of Modena: this traditional balsamic vinegar is made from reduced grape must. It has to be stored and aged in several wooden barrels for many years. This vinegar is typical of the region of Modena, Italy.
- Traditional vinegar of Reggio Emilia: Made in a similar traditional way, this vinegar belongs to the region around the city of Reggio Emilia, among rolling hills.
- Balsamic vinegar of Modena: usually less expensive, this type of balsamic vinegar takes much less time to produce. It is made from wine vinegar that is added to a grape must and sugar mixture. It’s also made in the regions of Modena and Reggio Emilia. It is aged for at least 2 or 3 months, reaching sometimes up to two years.
The first two types of balsamic vinegar tend to be more expensive because of their longer and more involved production process. However, whichever product you get that has any of these three stamps on it is guaranteed to be of good quality.
The stamps with these origin names are created and handed out by international organs that look for quality, use of authentically traditional methods, and proof of true origin. Any of the three types of real balsamic vinegar is a great addition to your pantry!
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How Do You Choose the Best Balsamic Vinegar
There are so many options! And all of them look tasty! What is a foodie to do? Most of the balsamic vinegar products out there are great, but they are not all created equal! There are differences in the type of fabrication process, taste, budget, and quality. This last point is moot: in this list of reviews, you can find the best balsamic vinegar available. But what about everything else?
What Is the Use You Will Give Your Balsamic Vinegar?
Maybe you are hosting a fancy dinner for the new boss you want to impress into handing you a promotion or important project. Maybe you are throwing together a quick Wednesday night dinner for you and your best friend (who does not particularly care for being impressed).
If you want to create a truly fancy meal and then list off all of the ingredients and impress the guests with your food savviness, traditional is the way to go. You can even go all out and make it all Italian-themed! Think traditional pasta from the Emilia Romagna region, gelato, and real Italian wine to go with your balsamic vinegar glaze or sauce. Bonus points for Italian words: Buon appetito!
What Is Your Budget Like?
There is a cold, hard truth: traditional, authentic, and elaborate balsamic vinegar usually costs a lot more than products made in a faster, more industrialized way. So, if you have the budget to go all out on your meal, go ahead and do so!
But, if you want to get the best bang for your buck, you will be better off saving that traditional, exotic item for a special dinner and using a cheaper version instead. As long as you pick a less pricey product from the range I have reviewed, you will be all right!
What Are the Differences in Taste?
True balsamic vinegar that is made traditionally is generally darker and has a more intense flavor. The texture itself becomes more viscous because of the aging method (the vinegar is put into more and more concentrated wooden barrels). Non-traditional vinegar contains many added ingredients (such as stabilizers, thickeners, and caramel) to imitate the taste and texture of the original product.
Sometimes it comes out tasty. Other times, not so much. It mostly comes down to what you are willing to pay and to whether the difference in taste is important enough to you to justify spending more on a traditional product.
Balsamic Vinegar Recipes
So much talk about the best aged and organic balsamic vinegar, but what can you actually do with it? This ingredient is versatile and can be a lot of fun if you know how to use it!
Easy Balsamic Vinegar Glaze
Who does not want a glaze you can drizzle over pasta, meat dishes, salads, and— even!— desserts? This simple recipe using the best balsamic vinegar will take any dish from blah to absolutely fabulous with its zing and sweetness!
- Grab a saucepan with sides that are at least two inches high.
- Pour balsamic vinegar into it (one of the thinner types would be better): about two or three cups (you can vary the amount for a more tangy taste).
- Mix with two big spoonfuls of brown organic sugar.
- Heat the pan up to medium temperature while stirring the mixture constantly (it is best to use a wooden spoon!).
- Keep stirring until all the sugar is dissolved.
- When it boils, take the heat down to the lowest point and let it stay there until the amount of liquid is halved.
- You will know it is ready when you dip the back of a metal spoon and then paste sticks to it!
- Turn off the fire and leave it alone until it cools down. Then put it in a glass jar and straight into the fridge until you need it.
Queen of Every Party: Balsamic Vinegar Vinaigrette
Many people ask me what is the best balsamic vinegar dressing. And few things sound as fancy as “balsamic vinegar vinaigrette”, am I right? And it is not a hard dressing to make at all! You will need a glass jar, three spoonfuls of oil (preferably virgin olive), one spoonful of vinegar, a pinch of salt, and a dash of fresh Cayenne or black ground pepper.
It is as easy as combining all the ingredients in the jar, closing it, and shaking it hard! You can add more spoonful of virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar in the same proportion to increase the final quantity of vinaigrette. You can also vary the proportion: more oil if you want the final product to be smoother, more vinegar if you want it tarter!
Bonus points if you add extra ingredients such as spring onions, cardamom, or other types of pepper. Now that you have your amazing balsamic vinegar vinaigrette, go ahead and pour it over your salad, and give it a toss if you would like. A little tip: a salad like that goes amazingly with salt and pepper calamari!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: What Is Balsamic Vinegar Made of?
A: The first item in the list of ingredients of a balsamic vinegar bottle should always be a grape must, which is freshly pressed grape juice. It is traditionally the only ingredient in vinegar. However, you may also find wine vinegar in some lower-priced varieties.
Q: Does Balsamic Vinegar Need to Be Refrigerated?
A: Not really. Balsamic vinegar usually keeps well in a cupboard or pantry for as much as 3-5 years. Keeping them in refrigerators sometimes tend to make the consistency and texture change, and can even separate the ingredients.
Q: Is It OK to Eat Balsamic Vinegar Every Day?
A: Unless you’re allergic to it, it’s alright to eat vinegar every day. However, it’s good to practice moderation as too much balsamic vinegar can cause stomach upsets.
Dress, Serve, Love
Once you have found your best balsamic vinegar for salad, ice cream, or glaze, it is time to dress— your food— to impress! Now you will be able to add a touch of sophistication and Old World charm to any meal. As we’ve already discussed, vinegar is usually low calorie and good for your health, and it can even help you live a long and healthy life. So pick the best vinegar, buy, and prepare to dazzle!